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Weathermen get technohelp

Finnish super-radar to track freak weather

Weather forecasting on the web could be revolutionised by an early warning system that can predict freak storms before they start.

Scientists in Finland claim new radar technology they've developed can deliver information that’s up to 100 times more accurate than normal Doppler radar. Doppler radar measures the velocity of winds.

The Met Office has not assessed the system, but it is currently considering upgrading its system for forecasting weather.

It is choosing between using a Doppler system in combination with normal radar and another type of radar called dual polarisation.

Bill Wheeler, head of the weather radar section at the Met Office, said the upgraded system would be used to provide more accurate weather information on the internet and television.

With the normal Doppler system, radar pulses are sent out at intervals and the weathermen analyse a single pulse at a time to find out about the weather in an area.

But with the Finns' development, simultaneous multiple pulse radar frequency, lots of pulses are sent out at the same time and weathermen can analyse pairs of pulses together.

One of the Met Office's choices, dual polarisation, measures the height and width of weather phenomena, whereas the existing single polarisation radar can only measure either height or width.

“The system is good enough to give the public an idea whether they should take an umbrella out or not,” said Wheeler, “but now we want to improve the accuracy even more.”

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